The Playful World of the Scientific Acknowledgement

The post on carnivorous sponges, specifically the lead author naming a species after his wife,

Named in honor of Eve Lundsten, beautiful wife of the first author whose commitment and support have endured through the years. Eve’s love for the Gulf of California also inspired this naming as the type specimen was collected. [1]

started me thinking about how I always acknowledge my wife in the acknowledgements of my scientific papers.

M.G.M. provided loving patience with the first author.  [2]

So I began to wonder who and what else gets acknowledged for driving our collective sciences.

We thank C. Ancell for the excellent preparation; F. Jackson, M. Brown, Dead Lizard Society (MSU), M. Gardner and M. Ivie for their helpful comments and discussion; L. Hall for the illustration; M. Drool for inspiration; and M. Holland, R. Kambic, J. Li, E. Morchhauser, C. Wong and Project Exploration. [3]

An tasty acknowledgment to beer. M. Drool is Moose Drool brewed in Montana.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

How about thanking those who have to put up with our language in the field?

We thank Baboon Teams 2009, 2010 and 2011 for putting up with AJC standing around and swearing at baboons a lot, [4]

beastie-boys1A vital component of research is musical accompaniment.  How about this acknowledgement to one of my favorite groups of all time, the Beastie Boys.  What no Mix Master Mike, aka Michael Schwartz?

We would like to thank the following people, mostly undergraduate students from Bloomsburg University, for their assistance in the lab at sea: Kory Angstadt, Dawn Bailey, Kimberly Baldwin, Peter Bernhardt, Mike Burczynski, Ryan Carr, Michael Diamond, Justin Derbes, Eric Drake, Raye Foster, Michael Fountain, Cindy Fraze, Marisel Gonzales-Bustos, Amy Harlan, Crystal Harlan, Mark Harlan, Katrina Hoffman, Adam Horovitz, Jennifer Hunt, Jason Kahn, Mindy Kelley, Jennifer Krapf, Amy MacFadyen, Nadia Meyers, Jerry Nettles, Aaron Norakus, Shawn O’Keefe, Jeff Perry, Tara Stoffel, Adam Thompson, Kate Treese, Chris Urie, Michael Weaver, and Adam Yauch.  [5]

Or what about the people who care not to be associated with the work? This was apparently an April Fool’s Joke.

We would like to acknowledge the help of various colleagues in formulating this work, but they asked us not to because they didn’t want their names associated with it. [6]

Although not an acknowledge but a footnote.  Taken on Sir Robert May in a croquet series sounds daunting.

The order of authorship was determined from a twenty-five-game croquet series held at Imperial  College Field Station during summer 1973. [7]

An my favorite of all time

I thank the National Science Foundation for regularly rejecting my (honest) grant applications for work on real organisms (cf. Szent-Györgyi, 1972), thus forcing me into theoretical work. This paper has been circulating in samizdat since December, 1972, and I have given talks based on it before and after then. [8]

Each of these acknowledgments show the true side of scientists whether playful, passionate, or even frustrated.  Scientists are inspired by the world around them sometimes this is the movement of insect across the forest floor and sometimes it is Sabotage by the Beastie Boys.

Please put other examples in the comments below.

  1. LUNDSTEN, L., REISWIG, H., & AUSTIN, W. (2014). Four new species of Cladorhizidae (Porifera, Demospongiae, Poecilosclerida) from the Northeast Pacific Zootaxa, 3786 (2) DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3786.2.1
  2. McClain, C., Gullett, T., Jackson-Ricketts, J., & Unmack, P. (2012). INCREASED ENERGY PROMOTES SIZE-BASED NICHE AVAILABILITY IN MARINE MOLLUSKS Evolution, 66 (7), 2204-2215 DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01580.x
  3. Varricchio, D., Martin, A., & Katsura, Y. (2007). First trace and body fossil evidence of a burrowing, denning dinosaur Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274 (1616), 1361-1368 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.0443
  4. Carter, A., Marshall, H., Heinsohn, R., & Cowlishaw, G. (2014). Personality predicts the propensity for social learning in a wild primate PeerJ, 2 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.283
  5. Strutton, P., Evans, W., & Chavez, F. (2008). Equatorial Pacific chemical and biological variability, 1997-2003 Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 22 (2) DOI: 10.1029/2007GB003045
  6. Joe Zuntz, Thomas G. Zlosnik, Caroline Zunckel, & Jonathan T. L. Zwart (2010). Orthographic Correlations in Astrophysics arXiv arXiv: 1003.6064v1
  7. Hassell, M., & May, R. (1974). Aggregation of Predators and Insect Parasites and its Effect on Stability The Journal of Animal Ecology, 43 (2) DOI: 10.2307/3384
  8. Van Valen 1973. A New Evolutionary Law. Evolutionary Theory 1:1 1-30.


2 Replies to “The Playful World of the Scientific Acknowledgement”

  1. Neurobiologist Harvey Karten dedicated one paper ( to “beloved friend, teacher, and therapist, Dr. Morris Gold”. I remember in journal club that the inclusion of “therapist” on the list was… specifically mentioned.

    Kelly Weinersmith and I dedicated our new paper ( to her and Zach’s new daughter, Ada. The sentiment was sincere, but how we phrased it was a playful: “We dedicate this paper to Ada Marie Weinersmith, who was delivered the same week as this paper.”

  2. The paper “Detecting excess radical replacements in phylogenetic trees” by Tal Pupko, Roded Sharan
    , Masami Hasegawa,Ron Shamir and Dan Graur (doi:10.1016/S0378-1119(03)00802-3) contains the following acknowledgement:

    “Dan Graur wishes to thank the ‘‘Klum mit Gurnisht’’ Section of the Israel Science Foundation for their consistent support in the last 17 years.”.

    Klum mit Gurnisht means nothing and nothing in Hebrew and Yiddish, respectively.

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